The Southern Ridges Walk

View of Sentosa from Mount Faber

With no desert to drive in and no boat to sail, new weekend activities have to be found for Temptress’ crew. One of our little Singaporean discoveries is that there are lots of walking routes and incredibly in this tiny island, that it is possible to get completely away from the sound of traffic and modern life just a short distance from our doorstep. previously we’ve walked a bit of the Green Corridor (last December’s blog on that, must do another stretch soon) and the Tree Tops Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir. Last Sunday morning we decided to explore the length of the Southern Ridges walk.

Kevin had covered part of this path from Alexandra Road to Mount Faber with our friends’ Chris and Netti when they stopped off in Singapore mid-January and realised it is basically one long uphill incline in that direction. He was determined to start this time from Mount Faber, the highest point; from there it should all be down hill, shouldn’t it?

Valley Park is located somewhere below the central grey tower!

The number 65 bus from our home at the top of River Valley Road conveniently dropped us at Harbour Front where after crossing the road, we spotted the first of the many signs, you are not going to get lost very easily on this walk, at least initially. Getting to the start of the Southern Ridge path however was our first challenge, the Marang Trail is short but a lot of steps from effectively sea level to 105m. People walking down were encouraging – “you’re nearly there” they’d chirp as they passed but turning the next corner the steps went on and on. Huffing and puffing we reached the roadway at last (alternatively you can take a taxi to the cable car station and avoid this exertion).

Our route was clearly signed both via posts and yellow markings across the pathway. There are spectacular views  across Singapore from either side – south to Sentosa, the ships at anchor and beyond Indonesia and north west towards the city centre. We both spent some time picking out familiar landmarks and trying to spot from the various vantage points the distinctive 20 story block we live in, we didn’t though we could make out neighbouring ones. Onward though otherwise it’ll be lunchtime and stupidly hot for walking.

Henderson Wave – yes its an uphill bridge!

View from the Wave

The Southern Ridges walk connects a series of parks and the first connector is probably the most impressive; the Henderson Wave claims to be the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore but is it far more than a functional bridge. It is beautifully sculpted from wood and metal, curvaceous and sinuous it blends into the landscape it crosses at tree top height. In fact from the road below you scarcely notice it when driving under it.

On to Telok Blangah Park and the hill top walk and thence to the Forest Walkway a raised platform walk some 50 metres above the ground cutting down through the rainforest. We heard birds aplenty but saw few and neither did we spot any monkeys though there are plenty of signs warning you to not feed them or carry anything in plastic bags. Being this high up among the trees it is hard to believe you are in a city! Across the Alexandra Arch which was designed to look like an opening leaf – all metal struts and imposing. As Kevin’s office is close by we both regularly drive under this bridge but it was only on reading the signboard that we discovered its daily sunset light show is designed to show off the colours of a tropical dusk and continues on until 2am! The nearby Gillman Barracks were once home to the British Milatary but now are the location of one of Kevin’s post-work watering holes.

Forest Walkway

Ants beginning to nest

Not all is pristine jungle – recent landscaping

Plenty of signs to mark the way

A giant radish in Hort Park

Red beans!

The landscape changes as we enter Hort Park, home to Singapore’s gardeners and dedicated to their enjoyment and education. Flower filled beds, English lawns, starkly architected buildings and rectangular ponds welcome the visitor. Within the grounds small plots can be rented by either volunteer groups or commercial organisations to grow things like veg or to demonstrate their wares. After a welcome thirst quenching rest at the cafe we explored the little plots; huge radish, red shelled beans, bananas, cabbage, climbing frames, water features and more. In the greenhouses at the foot of the hill we discovered dahlias growing – I love these showy plants but it was a bit odd to see them growing in the tropics! The greenhouses themselves were built to prove cooling concepts for the big garden domes at Gardens By The Bay (another place on my list of must see soon).

Did I mention we were at the bottom of the hill? Our route now snaked its way back and forth up to Kent Ridge in lazy loops along the hillside. At every turn our view back across the nursery gardens of Singapore’s parks department grew as we climbed. We were very glad of the reviving drink we’d partaken of in Hort Park. At last the canopy walk was reached then on towards Bukit Chandu or to give it it’s full name Reflections at Bukit Chandu; this short trail with ample seating looks over the tranquil nursery gardens yet introduces the visitor to the full horror of one of the major battles for Singapore in World War II. British and Malays defended this hill for two days until eventually the regiment ran out of ammunition, then continued to fight hand to hand to hand with the Japanese until few of the men or their officers remained. The picture boards describe several desperate men jumping a wide canal of burning fuel, for the British stored their fuel in what is now the tranquil garden below. Two days later Singapore surrendered to the invaders after the Japanese had murdered the patients and staff at the nearby Alexandra Hospital. (We realised later there is a visitor centre devoted to the men who fought so bravely close by – another reason, apart from the present day views, to return).

Spot the lizard

Amazing dahlias

City view from Bukit Chandu

The leafy calm of Kent Ridge

Any idea what these are?

We were reaching the end of the trail – officially trail A heads off down the ridge to the north and trail B headed south along Alexandra road and leads through the Labrador Nature Reserve on the coast instead of crossing into Hort Park. Our goal had been to reach the West Coast Park a little further on but this route was poorly sign posted and instead we found ourselves heading down to Pasir Pajang Road a little way along from the MRT station. Time for lunch and just by the turn for Pepys Road (the vehicle access up to Reflections) we discovered a little gem. “On The Table” serves well cooked, scrummy breakfasts (and probably other food) and a range of craft beers – Kevin choose the Big Breakfast and got exactly that laid out like a smiley face whilst I had Eggs Benedict served on a huge hunk of toasted brioche with lashings of Hollandaise sauce. The bus home couldn’t have been more convenient being just outside their door.

A great walk with plenty of interest and opening up more possibilities for further exploration. You can find a map on Singapore National Parks’ excellent website. Don’t forget your camera, sunscreen, drinking water and a hat!

Click here to start exploring a little more on the history of Kent Ridge Park and World War II’s impact on Singapore.